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What is an equity loan?

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A home equity loan (sometimes abbreviated HEL) is a type of loan in which the borrower uses the equity in their home as collateral.

These loans are sometimes useful to help finance major home repairs, medical bills or college education.

A home equity loan creates a lien against the borrower’s house, and reduces actual home equity.

Home equity loans are most commonly second position liens (second trust deed), although they can be held in first or, less commonly, third position.

Most home equity loans require good to excellent credit history, and reasonable loan to value and combined loan to value ratios.

Home equity loans come in two types, closed end and open end.

Both are usually referred to as second mortgages, because they are secured against the value of the property, just like a traditional mortgage.

Home equity loans and lines of credit are usually, but not always, for a shorter term than first mortgages.

In the United States, it is sometimes possible to deduct home equity loan interest on one’s personal income taxes.

There is a specific difference between a home equity loan and a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

A HELOC is a line of revolving credit with an adjustable interest rate. Whereas a home equity loan is a one time lump sum loan, often with a fixed interest rate.

When considering a loan, the borrower should be familiar with the terms recourse and nonrecourse loan, secured and unsecured debt, and dischargeable and non dischargeable debt.

US traditional mortgages are usually non recourse loans.

Nonrecourse debt or a nonrecourse loan is a secured loan, that is secured by a pledge of collateral, typically real property, but for which the borrower is not personally liable.

A US home equity loan may be a recourse loan for which the borrower is personally liable.

This distinction becomes important in foreclosure since the borrower may remain personally liable for a recourse debt on a foreclosed property.

Home equity loans are secured loans. The debt is thus secured against the collateral, in the event that the borrower defaults, the creditor takes possession of the asset used as collateral and may sell it to satisfy the debt by regaining the amount originally lent to the borrower.

Credit card debt is an unsecured debt such that no asset has been pledged as collateral for the loan.

Using a home equity loan to pay off credit card debt essentially converts an unsecured debt to a secured debt.

When deciding upon a type of loan, the borrower should also consider if the debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy. For instance, US student loans are practically non dischargeable in bankruptcy.

This is a revolving credit loan, also referred to as a home equity line of credit, where the borrower can choose when and how often to borrow against the equity in the property, with the lender setting an initial limit to the credit line based on criteria similar to those used for closed end loans.

Like the closed end loan, it may be possible to borrow up to 100% (mostly up to 80%) of the value of a home, less any liens.

These lines of credit are available up to 30 years, usually at a variable interest rate.

The minimum monthly payment can be as low as only the interest that is due.

Typically, the interest rate is based on the Prime rate plus a margin.

Then you want anew loan, shop around, it is time well spend.


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